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News Analysis: 4-nation talks on Afghan peace process raises hopes among Afghans

Xinhua, January 13, 2016 Adjust font size:

Officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States and China met in Islamabad on Monday to work out a roadmap for the revival of the stalled peace talks between the Afghan

government and the Taliban.

The participants in the meeting agreed on terms for the work of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) and decided to continue regular meetings to accelerate the efforts for peace and the reconciliation process in militancy-plagued Afghanistan.

Besides bringing the Taliban and Afghan government to the negotiating table to end the protracted conflict in Afghanistan, the participants also agreed that the next meeting of QCG will be scheduled for Jan. 18 in Kabul, said a statement released at the end of the four-nation meeting in Islamabad on Monday.

The first round of face-to-face talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government in July in Pakistan concluded that dialogue should continue, but Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor halted the process following the confirmation of the death of Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, and succeeded him in August.

A day before the key four-nation conference in Islamabad, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani during a visit to the eastern Nangarhar province warned of taking military action against those militants refusing to accept the peace talks.

Afghan political watchers, however, believe that the quadrilateral talks could bridge the gap and narrow the differences on the peace process in Afghanistan.

"This time, the talks are different than the previous ones because of the participation of China and the U.S. in the quadrilateral conference, which made it more significant and raised the rays of hope among Afghans," Sayed Jafar Rastin, a university professor and political analyst, told Xinhua on Tuesday.

The U.S. and China as major powers and good friends of both Afghanistan and Pakistan can bolster the peace process and eventually bring the Taliban to the negotiating table, said the analyst.

Nevertheless, he said, "let us wait and see how the road map prepared by the four nations for the peace process pans out and the Taliban's reaction to it."

The Taliban, the analyst said, is already divided into two groups and neither has signaled wanting to have talks.

Sartaj Aziz, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's advisor on foreign affairs, in his remarks at the quadrilateral conference, announced Islamabad's support to the Afghan national reconciliation and the proposed peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban without preconditions.

Afghan deputy foreign minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai, who headed the Afghan government delegation at the four-nation talks, told a press conference here that there is an opportunity in the months of January and February to bring a change for the people of Afghanistan.

Hailing the role of China in the Afghan peace process, Khalil Karzai said China's role has always been significant in Afghanistan in terms of reconstruction, economic and political support, adding that Afghanistan wants China to continue its support to the peace process

and monitor it too.

The government would continue to push ahead the peace process but the national security forces would continue to do their job, Khalil Karzai went on to say at the conference.

"No doubt such talks will gradually and finally pave the way for direct talks between the government and the Taliban," a former Taliban official and political observer, Mohammad Hassan Haqyar, told local

media on Tuesday. Enditem